I'll have to admit that this year's Blizzcon took me by surprise. Seriously, Mists of Pandaria? Everyone and their grandma was hoping for a Pandaren expansion with a monk and/or brewmaster class. Instead, they got an expansion in the continent of Pandaria, with a monk class and a brewmaster spec. Duh.
I was a bit shocked because I never thought Blizzard would go in this direction. It seems to me they've been coyly denying any future dealings with Pandarens but what do I know? I'm not a big Warcraft buff.
So here we are, at Blizzcon 2011 and a lot of folks seem excited about the new expansion. Others, aren't so much. Oh, believe me, there are plenty of people who are just like me, namely meh. Still don't believe me? Here's a bunch of comments on Arstechnica.
Please understand that I'm not trolling or bitching or anything like that. I'm just trying to analyze this news from the perspective of someone who has quit WoW for many months and was just curious if there's the slightest reason to return to WoW with the next expansion. The way things look, there's no chance in hell I will return, not even if Diablo 3 weren't around the corner.
Another cute race doesn't do it for me. I'm thinking at this point that Blizzard is trying to appeal to the even younger demographic, perhaps in the 6-10 range. OK, I get it, older people also like fluffy things. Hell, I love fluffy things. I love cats, for example, but I would never own a pet. I love to look at them and play with them, as long as they're not mine. But I digress...
Another class seems a bit redundant at this point. There are already plenty of classes in WoW. The fact that this one doesn't seem to use weapons a lot is odd. I like my characters to use powerful weapons. You can always upgrade weapons but you can't upgrade your fists.
The total revamp of the talent tree has gotten old at this point. If I were playing WoW again I'd simply be tired of all these changes. I mean, it looks to me that Blizzard's philosophy these days is to revamp the talents and skills with every expansion. Just to keep things fresh, y'know.
Changing resource systems - yet again - is another thing that will potentially turn things upside-down for certain players. I'm talking about the warlock's resources (I haven't looked at other classes). C'mon, a different resource for every spec? Sheesh.
Combat between pets? Methinks Blizzard has run out of inspiration. I'm sure lots of people have swooned when they heard the news. I'm sure I would enjoy playing with my pets for a while - a short while. But how long until this, too, will grow stale? To me, this smells like a gimmick to keep players interested a little while longer. The person who thought of this must have felt like a genius: "Hey, I know how to keep players glued! We can give them combat pets! Just think about it: most players must have dozens of pets by now. If we add skills to them we can increase the time spent in WoW at least tenfold!"
A level cap of 90 seems to indicate a lack of content similar to Cataclysm. We all know how that went. Personally, I was bored with Cataclysm less than 2 months in. Will the same thing happen now? I bet not. Now there's kombat petz!!
In what has become a sort of tradition, Blizzard is pulling the no-flying-until-level-cap bullshit again. Another reason not to be drawn back to the game.
As far as grouping and quests and raids and dungeons, there's some nice stuff on the PvE side but nothing outstanding.
On the art side, I'll give it to Blizzard: they do know how to design some beautiful zones. Yet, something doesn't feel right to me. While it's all beautiful, Pandaria is a blatant copy of China. I believe they could have worked a bit harder to give it a general Asian flavor without making it specifically Chinese (not that there's anything wrong with China). There are other cultures and countries in Asia apart from China, such as India, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and so on.
I've said what I had to say. It's not a collection of rants but merely my observations based on what I've seen so far. I'm sure there are many ex-WoW players who are looking for a good reason to return. While those who are still playing the game are thrilled with the new expansion I'm sure, I'm pretty positive that most of the ex-players aren't.
My feeling is that World of Warcraft is now past its prime and sliding on the inexorable slope of decline. Mists of Pandaria seems like a desperate attempt to keep the player base interested. I doubt they'll gain a lot of new players over this and I'll bet you a dollar that by summer 2012 we'll see even more bad news about the diminishing subscriber base. But hey, it wasn't meant to last forever.
To top it all off, they're offering players who subscribe to WoW for a year, a free copy of Diablo 3. That's laughable. It proves how confident Blizzard is in their Pandarian expansion. In other words, "we'll bribe you with a copy of D3 if you pay us for a year of WoW because you'll get bored with it in 2-3 months anyway". It would have been nice of them to offer this deal to anyone who, in the past, has subscribed to at least 12 months of WoW. But whatever, I'm still going to buy Diablo 3.
I'm actually glad that this next one won't be a solid, massive expansion. Otherwise I might have been tempted to try it. As it is, I'm (hopefully) going to enjoy myself to the max with Diablo 3 and I won't have to pay a monthly subscription to do so.
Finally, lease, if you leave a comment here, don't be throwing insults and such. If you are stoked about Pandaria, that's great, I'd be happy to hear why it excites you so much. If not, likewise.
Patch 1.0.5 commentary
4 years ago